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Office Hours

Either March 2009 or December 2008: which is the best month to compare Spokane’s jobless rate?

Tuesday's state number for Spokane County unemployment led to a story that noted September's 8.2 percent is the lowest for this area since 2009.

Specifically, since March 2009. In that month the rate was 8.6 percent. Since then, the rates all were in the high 8s or 9s.

That March 2009 number was the “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate.

However, if you ask Doug Tweedy, the state labor economist for Spokane, the last time our jobless rate was as low was actually December 2008.

He prefers the seasonally nonadjusted rate for Spokane County's jobless rate.

Which is the better number?  Beats the heck out of me.

The state uses seasonal adjustments to account for built-in swings and shifts in employment due to seasonal trends. Such as resorts hiring in the summer, or schools bringing workers back on in the fall.

But Tweedy said the adjusted number has been impacted by being baselined against a series of disruptive recessionary job numbers, and that affects the reliability of that measure.

He also noted that he's found the adjusted number is sometimes better and sometimes worse in trying to find an accurate unemployment rate.

Anyone care to sound off on this topic?


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